For the region of Southeast Asia, tourism is a major pillar that supports the livelihoods of many of its people and inhabitants. As the progress of technology inevitably marches on, many enterprising businesses and individuals have taken advantage of the latest developments to advance the tourism sector in their countries. One such innovative startup is AskVietnamese, which operates a digital mapping platform for tourists that provides a personalized touring experience via the integration of traditional maps with digitized online maps through the use of QR codes. The startup’s motto is to support international visitors for free. The startup’s custom online platform and mobile application utilizes content and data made by the local community to offer international visitors an insider’s look into the culture, traditions and events of Vietnam, with which they can adapt to suit their personal travel itineraries.
True to its namesake, AskVietnamese actively engages the local community to promote Vietnamese culture and to provide a tailor-made traveling experience for tourists, all free of charge. The startup boasts the participation of around 100 local social media influencers and content creators in its project, ranging from influential bloggers, to artistic photographers, to local artists, to video content makers, and more. The involvement of the local community offers an immersive, authentic Vietnamese cultural experience for international tourists, and indeed the startup hopes that international visitors and tourists get to experience living as a Vietnamese during their stay in the country. As such, the local community is heavily engaged in the content creation for the startup’s digital software and mobile app, which also functions as a question and answer portal for interested visitors. Tourists can access the app to get information and recommendations such as the places to go to for authentic Vietnamese cuisine, cultural happenings and events, must-see places and sites, and more. With this valuable source of locally-provided tourism data on their hands, visitors can easily customize their travel itineraries to suit their wants and needs.
Established in late 2017, AskVietnamese prides itself on offering a sustainable, genuine approach to tourism that does not adversely affect the local community or the country’s beautiful environment. The startup noted that more than 10 million international tourists visited Vietnam in 2017 alone, and that a majority of these visitors have expressed a sincere wish to have an authentic, genuine cultural experience of Vietnam. Towards this end, the startup has organized a fundraising campaign that saw the participation of interested parties and individuals from more than 15 countries across the world, such as the United States, New Zealand, Japan, Iran, Hong Kong, Singapore, France, Australia, Sweden and Oman.
The digital tourism startup AskVietnamese was chosen by Vietnamese startup accelerator VIISA (Vietnam Innovative Startups Accelerator) in March 2020 to be among three selected startups for the business acceleration program’s seventh batch. The three month-long program will provide AskVietnamese the opportunity to leverage the startup accelerator’s online support services and co-working space, as well as an undisclosed sum of initial investment. Graduating startups can expect to receive an additional follow-up funding of up to US$200,000 and a shot at raising more funding from other investors.